My original manifesto, written individually:
Motto [The city: Its something to do.]
The city is immortal; it cannot be destroyed, except by acts of massive violence and continued trauma. The city itself has a desire to live, to adapt and to persist.
There is but one rule of cities: they must remain in motion. For a city, stillness means death. Movement can exist in the form of cyclical cultural trends, a pendulous political climate, succession of leadership, technological advancement, or migration of commercial centers. Strife and cooperation are equally important, the illusion of progress gives impetus for human activity, motion keeps the city alive.
In American cities, from their inception until the mid-twentieth century, this movement was directed spatially outward, in the form of physical growth on virgin ground. (Magna Carta) This growth turned into sprawl; the change of connotation remains as an unheeded premonition of the end of an age.
When the city over-expanded, it became unhealthy, and began to rot. The logic which lead to the first iteration of the American city could no longer be applied, its effects were no longer positive. The symptoms of the city’s illness included a suburban migration, urban blight, crime, and a breakdown of communication and meaningful cooperation.
To avoid dying, the city has mutated. It’s DNA, the logic behind the morphology, has changed. The new logic offers provisions for dealing with artifacts in the urban field, the largely intact remnants of the first iteration. These appear as ideas of sustainability, pro-density, and adaptive re-use.
Rhetoric has swung in favor of the city once more, the new logic of the city offers a new direction in which to move, promising a better way of life. The city is now turning in on itself, folding its historical fabric into the promise of the future, restructuring into smaller neighborhoods, defining sharper boundaries, and destroying perceived sprawl (both surgically and via broad-spectrum measures).
The cities of Europe have survived many illnesses, they are older, and more highly evolved organisms. European cities have evolved mechanisms to deal with the problems that the American city is currently facing. It is quite likely that that this is the reason that American city rhetoric praises many aspects of the European models.
As people return to cities, a paradox emerges: people avoid cities where there are no people. Space can only be defended by residents, and people only wish to reside in a place that is defensible. Only the dispossessed are willing to risk possession of this undesirable space. Engines of cooperation must be restarted, and trust must be reestablished. A new paradigm of instantaneous, digital interaction must be reconciled with the planning and occupation of safe physical space.
The project for Military Park represents a surgical insertion of a single (art) object which can substantially influence the urban field, inspiring cooperation and encouraging physical occupation. The goal of the Urban Field Trippers (NJIT Siena Summer Studio 2011: Team 2: Military Park) is to design an object (or series of objects) that demonstrates confidence in the revitalization of Newark, without necessarily trying to use design to forcibly reconfigure the urban order.